May, Mary, and the Rosary

I must confess I love the month of May. I vividly can recall the smell the fragrant lilacs in bloom in our next door neighbor’s yard when I lived in my childhood home.  Their shrubs were directly under our kitchen window, so the scent of these aromatic blooms could not be missed.  As I exited my home the blooms arched over our driveway and sometimes I would jump up to steal a blossom or two on my way to school.  In early May each year there was always a May crowning of a life-size statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the front of the church altar. Lilacs were brought in by the armfuls by all my classmates to fill the vases near her statue.  I loved all the ceremony and smells and holiness of those memories.  

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The fragrance of lilacs always remind me of Our Blessed Mother.

And while I have always loved the Blessed Virgin Mary, my love for praying the Rosary was more of a gradual process.  As a youngster it seemed like the prayers would last for hours when in reality one set of mysteries of the Rosary was more like twenty minutes.  I didn’t understand the concept of meditating on each the mysteries of the life of Christ during the decades until I was in my thirties, when I really wanted to understand my faith better.  Once I spent time thinking about the specific mystery for each decade, these sets of ten Hail Marys no longer seemed to last for “decades.”  I began to look forward to praying the Rosary as I contemplated the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries.

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I’ve quite a collection of Rosaries from over the years.

In October of 2002, Pope John Paul II added the Luminous Mysteries. At first I was resistant to praying these new mysteries.  The traditional Rosary with the usual three sets of mysteries was not something to trifle with, in my opinion.  It seemed unusual and foreign to me, but I eventually began adding them to my rosary repertoire.  And I soon began to look forward to praying them.  I thank God and Pope John Paul II for these added Mysteries of Light, yet I often wondered how and why these were added to the Rosary.  Why were these specific five events selected as the Luminous mediations on Jesus life?  What events were on the list but didn’t make the final cut?  

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Our Lady of Fatima statue as she appears to the children.

For nearly two decades, I have thought about the dozens of events in Christ’s life that would be helpful to meditate upon, too.  If I were given the task of adding a set of mysteries with five events from the life of Jesus, which would I choose?  What would be their theme? This self-imposed task was on my heart for years, but recently I sat down to seriously consider my choices.  So I took a paper and a pen and created not only one new set of Rosary mysteries, but four!  I was so inspired and surprised by my endeavor and now am looking forward to using them in my personal prayer time.

The Miraculous Mysteries of the Rosary was the first set to come to me.  It seemed to me that Jesus spent a lot of time healing and performing miracles during His earthly ministry, and it would be worth my time to think and pray about them a bit more.  So which events did I elect for my five decades?  I’m so glad you asked!

THE MIRACULOUS MYSTERIES OF THE ROSARY
Calming the Sea (Power over Nature) – Matthew 8:23-27/Mark 4:35-41/Luke 8:22-25

Healing the Demoniac (Spiritual Healing) – Matthew 8:28-33/Mark 5:1-20/Luke 8:26-39

Feeding the 5,000 (Providing for Our Needs) – Matthew 14:13-21/Mark 6:30-44/Luke 9:10-17/John 6:1-15

Curing the Ten Lepers (Physical Healing) – Luke 17:11-19

Raising Lazarus from the Dead (Restoring Life) – John 11:1-45

Then I began thinking that Jesus had many engaging encounters with people in the Gospels whose lives were seriously impacted by their meeting.  Here are the encounters that I included in a set of mysteries I labeled The Encounter Mysteries:

The ENCOUNTER MYSTERIES OF THE ROSARY

Jesus Encounters Nicodemus – John 3:1-21

Jesus Encounters the Woman at the Well – John 4:4-42

Jesus Encounters the Centurion – Matthew 8:5-13

Jesus Encounters the Rich Young Man – Matthew 19:16-30

Jesus Encounters the Good Thief – Luke 23:39-43

As I was looking up the Scripture references, I also began to realize that Jesus and St. Peter had some intense experiences that would be worthy of meditating upon: 

THE PETRINE MYSTERIES OF THE ROSARY

Peter Called to Discipleship – Matthew 4:18-22

Peter Walks on the Water – Matthew 14:22-33

Peter as the Rock – Matthew 16:13-20

Peter’s Denies Jesus – John 18:15-27

Peter Called to Feed the Sheep – John 21:15-10

And as long as we are still in the Easter Season, I was thinking about the Gospel this Sunday and all the appearances Jesus made after His Resurrection.  So these mysteries might helpful to mediate upon:

THE RESURRECTION MYSTERIES OF THE ROSARY

The Road to Emmaus – Luke 24:13-30

Upper Room – Luke 24:34-36

Doubting Thomas – John 20:24-29

Big Catch of Fish – John 21:1-19

Great Commission and Final Instructions – Matthew 28:16-20

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Mother Mary pray for us!

Okay, I’m probably getting carried away now, but I was truly surprised at the wealth of meditations there are in the Gospels, and the way they seem to fall into place around a theme.  I am excited to consider the blessings of praying my own new mysteries during my personal prayer time, especially during the month of May, Mary’s month.  As an adult one of the first things I planted in my home was a purple lilac shrub.  It’s beginning to bloom once again this spring, and I am excited to be able to smell their fragrance and to be transported back to the months of May from my childhood. And now I have many more reasons to love praying the Rosary.

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I will always be grateful for the gift of lilacs and the Rosary.
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